Esteban Chavez Climbs to a Solo Victory atop Mountain High in Race’s Second Summit Finish
Final Weekend of Racing Begins Tomorrow with Stage 7 from Santa Clarita to Pasadena
WRIGHTWOOD, Calif. – With just two days left in the 2014 Amgen Tour of California, today’s 94.4-mile stage from Santa Clarita to Mountain High had all the makings of an epic showdown, with riders in contention for the overall win doing anything in their power to make up valuable seconds in hopes of overtaking the race leader before Sunday’s finale. But, as he crossed the summit finish today, Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins(GBR) had strengthened the lead he has held since Monday by another two seconds.
“This is a fantastic win for me and my teammates,” Chaves said. “I did not think it was possible [to win] until the final 2 kilometers. This is a special win for me to defeat guys like Tom Danielson and finish ahead of Wiggins. This is a dream come true.”
Mountain High is a first-time Amgen Tour of California Host City, and Stage 6 presented by Crunchies Natural Snacks included the second mountaintop finish of 2014. ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Esteban Chaves (COL) rode to an impressive solo stage win after joining an early breakaway of six and pulling away from the remaining three riders on the slopes of Mountain High with about three miles left to ride. Joining 24-year-old Chaves on the podium today were his breakaway comrades and fellow climbing specialists David de la Cruz (ESP) with Team NetApp-Endura (+:13) and Tom Danielson (USA) with Team Garmin-Sharp (+:41), who placed third overall in the 2011 and 2012 race editions.
Wiggins is now squarely in the driver’s seat going into the final two days and final two stages.
“The boys [his team] really did a fantastic job and they really put me in a good position near the finish,” Wiggins said. “I was really just monitoring Team Garmin-Sharp and [Rohan] Dennis. It wasn’t until the final 300 meters near the big screen [at the finish] when I noticed there were only four us left in the [chase] group.”
The main pack of riders containing the general classification contenders pulled to the line seconds later after toiling up the nearly 12-mile climb, with the leaders in close proximity to one another. Today’s close result was crucial for Wiggins to defend his overall position. Team Sky knew it would be a day rife with attacks on the Tour de France winner, and they worked together to set a fast pace at the front of the peloton for much of the stage. Lying in wait within the main group were the other general classification challengers, including second-place contender Rohan Dennis (AUS) with Team Garmin-Sharp and BMC Racing Team’s Peter Stetina (Boulder, Colo.). Approaching the mountain, Dennis’ teammates attempted to bridge him to the breakaway, but the peloton’s fast pace shut down the possibility of a successful jump out of the pack.
During the approximately 4,000-foot climb up Mountain High, which has an average 6.3% grade, Team Sky’s Joe Dombrowski (Charlottesville, , Virginia) set a fast enough pace in the final miles to make it nearly impossible for other teams to attack on the slope, which heightened to a double-digit grade in the final three miles. Challenges from Team Garmin-Sharp and BMC Racing Team led nowhere, and Wiggins and his teammates took control of the thinning group into the final kilometers as Wiggins ultimately retained the Amgen Race Leader Jersey and shoring up his overall lead (+:30) over Dennis with a fifth-place stage finish. Lawson Craddock (Austin, Texas) of Team Giant-Shimano remains in the Crunchies Best Young Rider jersey and moves into third place overall (+1:48) with Team NetApp-Endura’s Tiago Machado (POR) slipping to fourth place (+2:02). Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Peter Sagan (SVK) remains in the Visit California Sprint Leader Jersey. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Christopher Jones (USA) was awarded the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey for his part in the breakaway and leading the charge up today’s smaller climbs before Mountain High.
Will Routley (CAN) of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies once again will don the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain Jersey, which he has held since day two of competition, further cementing his chances as overall winner of the KOM competition when the race ends Sunday.
“Founded in 1980, Amgen is a biotechnology pioneer, having since reached millions of patients around the world with our medicines,” said Ray Jordan, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs, Amgen. “And, as a biotechnology company in the race to dramatically improve lives, the Amgen Tour of California creates a platform to educate the public not only about Amgen and our innovation, but also about important resources available to patients through our national Breakaway from Cancer initiative.”
Amgen created the national Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California. Through Breakaway from Cancer, Amgen and its four nonprofit partners offer a broad range of support services complementing those provided by a patient’s team of healthcare professionals.
Today’s activities featured cancer survivor Jennifer Schelling who fired the official start gun to begin the stage, and cancer survivor Steve Bartolucci had the honor of awarding UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Christopher Jones with the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
From iconic ocean vistas to mountaintop finishes to desert scapes, the cyclists will cover more than 720 miles of beautiful and varying California terrain this week as they ride from the north to the south of the state in the ninth annual Tour de France-style competition.
STAGE 7 TOMORROW, PRESENTED BY CRUNCHIES NATURAL SNACKS:
Saturday, May 17 – Santa Clarita to Pasadena (88.7 mi)
Start Time: 11:40 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:15 p.m. PDT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:50 – 5 p.m. PT
Coordinates can be found at: http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/uploads/images/news/2014-stage7-tipsheet.pdf
For the second consecutive year, Santa Clarita will host two stages. Stage 7 will start at the familiar Westfield Valencia Town Center. The route will follow a high desert path to a sprint in Acton and into the Angeles National Forest. A slight twist from the familiar route through the National Forest will be the addition of Upper Big Tujunga. This adds a second KOM, as well as several miles on the picturesque Angeles Crest Highway. Passing the Mount Wilson Observatory, the riders will quickly begin a long, steep and very technical descent into the town of La Cañada Flintridge. The riders will pass by the Rose Bowl and across the iconic Colorado Street Bridge. After some quick turns in Old Town Pasadena, the leaders will see City Hall, the finish line and three laps to go. The three-mile circuit will follow many well-known streets in Pasadena, including the main route of the famous Rose Parade... Colorado Boulevard.
There are plenty of ways to take in the pro action, whether in person on the race course through May 18, via daily broadcasts on NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports (final Sunday), or by downloading the free Tour Tracker app, which features live race updates, rider background and full race results. More information on all of the ways to watch is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
The Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race created and presented by AEG that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course that traverses hundreds of miles of California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines each spring. The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and World Champions. More information is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.
Amgen focuses on areas of high-unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people’s lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be the world’s largest independent biotechnology company, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential. For more information, visit www.amgen.com and follow us on www.twitter.com/amgen.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, StubHub Center, Sprint Center, The O2, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Best Buy Theater Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG Live, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.
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Michael Roth, AEG
Eileen Tanner, GolinHarris
Diana Valdez, GolinHarris